January 3, 2013

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Traditionally this is a time to learn from our mistakes and commit ourselves to do differently in the new year.  

I wonder what resolutions Jesus would have made? 

For some, it may seem shocking to suggest that Jesus had room for self-improvement.  But it’s hard to miss his sins if you read the New Testament gospels.  The idea that Jesus was perfect came after the gospels were written, as the early church developed its doctrines.  By the fourth century, the church had painted itself into a corner.  The church declared Jesus to be fully human (though somehow sinless) and fully divine.  But the church couldn’t white-out the gospel stories that revealed his very human failings, because it had declared the New Testament to be a sacred text.  Theologians have filled libraries arguing the contrary, but it's still obvious that Jesus needed to shape up his act in a number of ways.

If I were Jesus, here would be my list for 2013:

1)  Be much nicer to my family.

Let’s face it, Jesus’ “family values” left much to be desired.  When he was twelve, he ran away from his parents in Jerusalem so he could hang out with the teachers in the Temple (Luke 2: 42-52).  Apparently “honor your father and your mother” wasn’t the lesson being taught there that day.  When Mary and Joseph finally caught up with him, and confronted him with his behavior, he gave a smart-ass answer:  "How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" Disrespect heaped on outrageousness!  If I was Jesus’ father, I’d have given him some serious “consequences”.  

Then there was the time in his early adulthood when he went to a wedding in Cana with his mother (John 2: 1-10).  Upon seeing that the host had run out of wine, she asked him to do something about it.  His answer?  "O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come."  Is that any way to talk to your mom?  There’s no excuse for it.  He ended up doing what she asked, but with a bad attitude.

Then there was the day he was preaching, and his mother and brothers sent someone inside to ask him to come out and speak with them (Matthew 12: 47-50).  He brushed them off with an insult:  "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother."   High-falutin’ talk from a guy who treated his family like strangers.  Who wants to be brotherly with somebody who treats his own brothers so badly?

January 3, 2013

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